Background: Patients with human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection and latent tuberculosis are at substantial risk for the development of active tuberculosis. As a public health measure, prophylactic treatment with isoniazid has been suggested for HIV-infected persons who have anergy and are in groups with a high prevalence of tuberculosis.
Methods: We conducted a multicenter, randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial of six months of prophylactic isoniazid treatment in HIV-infected patients with anergy who have risk factors for tuberculosis infection. The primary end point was culture-confirmed tuberculosis.
Results: The study was conducted from November 1991 through June 1996. Over 90 percent of the patients had two or more risk factors for tuberculosis infection, and nearly 75 percent of patients were from greater New York City. After a mean follow-up of 33 months, tuberculosis was diagnosed in only 6 of 257 patients in the placebo group and 3 of 260 patients in the isoniazid group (risk ratio, 0.48; 95 percent confidence interval, 0.12 to 1.91; P=0.30). There were no significant differences between the two groups with regard to death, death or the progression of HIV disease, or adverse events.
Conclusions: Even in HIV-infected patients with anergy and multiple risk factors for latent tuberculosis infection, the rate of development of active tuberculosis is low. This finding does not support the use of isoniazid prophylaxis in high-risk patients with HIV infection and anergy unless they have been exposed to active tuberculosis.